LEED v4 is the newest update to the LEED rating system, the next step in the continuous improvement cycle meant to drive innovation, expand reach and increase technical rigor. The LEED v4 ballot is currently open to USGBC members who registered to vote through the end of June.

Paladino is voting to approve.

Our leadership team believes LEED remains the most effective leverage point in the high performance real estate space, and we have been longtime strategic collaborators in the improvement process. This includes serving as technical editor and author for the LEED v4 Reference Guides.

LEED v4 is more comprehensive, advancing technically and asking for new documentation. Given these challenges, you might wonder why we are voting to approve.

The answer is one word: performance!

The new system creates stronger links between building performance metrics and LEED credits to help ensure the intent of the credit is met:

  • Gone are credits that were only about checking a box (the “empty bike rack” problem)
  • Gone are requirements that don’t lead to reduced emissions, water, and consumption
  • Credits that honestly push us towards a more sustainable future – they’re in there

But if you are looking for more details on our yes vote, keep reading for our top four reasons:

1. LEED v4 is about results, not levels: More than any other version, LEED v4 asks owners and design teams to focus on performance they want to create, not the certification level they want to achieve. More rigorous requirements and performance metrics means it may not be possible to achieve the same level of certification with the same project budget. This conundrum will lead owners to instead question what outcome they want: greater energy performance? Improved operations? A healthier workforce? By determining desired outcomes rather than mandating a base certification level, owners will be able to select credits that align with their values and achieve more meaningful results.

2. LEED v4 is fair; no one gets a free pass: This version of LEED puts the onus to change on all of us; no one escapes. If you are an architect, it asks you to change the way you design. If you are a contractor, it asks you to document your actions more closely. If you are an engineer, it asks you to model more consistently. If you are a manufacturer, it asks you to disclose what’s in your product. If you are an owner, it asks you to align green building features to your value set. And if you are a high performance green building consultant, like me, it asks you to focus on outcomes and not certification levels. A sustainable tomorrow requires us all to change; simply refreshing LEED 2009 would not have pushed us far enough.

3. LEEDv4 certification will lead to reporting excellence: Owners are now faced with more reporting requirements (see the SEC), are being asked to report more, or want to report performance themselves (see GRI). Now that each credit means something (i.e. there is a performance metric attached), and the USGBC acts as the third party reviewer, LEED v4 can directly link to reporting. Owners will be able to prove sustainable operations by using the performance metrics in LEED v4 and reap the benefits of a validated report.

4. LEED is the standard; no others come close: As I read through the debates in Congress, online, and within USGBC committees, it’s clear to me that LEED is driving the industry conversation on sustainability. Can you think of a single other organization or rating system that has as broad a stakeholder group, crosses all silos within the building industry, or gets attacked more by environmental, trade associations, and governments? LEED is the focal point of the green building debate, which helps makes the program stronger, more robust, more transparent, and more meaningful than any other framework, period.

It’s time to end the debate on LEED v4 and move onto using it; we will vote to approve LEED v4 by June 30.

Brad Pease AIA, LEED® AP BD+C is the leader of Paladino’s Signature Buildings Practice. Brad recently spoke to EDC Magazine about LEED v4; “Moving Green Forward with LEED v4.”

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    1. Hi Mark-

      Thanks for your comment. With the recent approval of LEEDv4, it’s good to know others felt the same way as us. We can now look forward to the change this will ask us all to make and the progress towards climate change mitigation that it will create.


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